Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies


Community Cultural Wealth, Cultural Capital, National Society of Black Engineers, Counter Spaces


Historically, Black students have been excluded from Predominately White institutions (PWI) longer than welcomed to attend and matriculate (Harper et al., 2009). Due to this lack of inclusion, African American students' educational experiences often center on academic disparities, inequality of opportunity, and under-preparedness in career planning within the American education system. While there has been a fair amount of research on the lack of representation of Black students in the engineering disciplines, the heavy focus on quantitative data offers little insight into the unique ways students succeed and overcome institutional and systemic barriers in pursuit of their degree. Undergraduate experiences, for Black students, are not easily quantified solely through enrollment numbers, test scores, grade point averages, and graduation rates.

An emerging approach to understanding the factors contributing to persistence and retention in engineering, particularly at a PWI, is to take an asset-based anti-deficit approach to study Black student success. This qualitative counter storytelling study utilized Yosso's (2005) Community Cultural Wealth (CCW) theoretical framework as a tool to illuminate the resource-rich experiences and community offerings of 12 Black students involved in the student-led National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter at the University of San Diego (USD). Semi-structured interviews were conducted to identify the variety of ways Black students access, activate, and foster cultural wealth as they navigate a PWI in pursuit of a career in engineering. Study findings show that all six sources of capital outlined in the CCW theoretical framework were deployed, with multiple capitals interacting and influencing each other. Emergent themes highlight the multiple forms of CCW participants used to navigate unwelcoming environments, seek support from critical stakeholders, contribute to the collective community wealth of the NSBE chapter and advocate for themselves and others. Recommendations and suggestions for further research conclude this study.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies